By samuel darroch
TRARALGON senior football coach Paul McCulloch has resigned after two seasons in charge.
The Maroons stalwart, who racked up just shy of 200 senior games as a player, along with periods as assistant coach and chairman of selectors, cited work and family commitments as major factors in the decision.
“I sort of feel that for the club to take the next step and move forward I’m probably going to have to find more time and commitment to make all that happen that we keep improving and I’m really finding it hard with my work commitments and missing out on a bit of family time as well,” McCulloch said.
‘Jumbo’ McCulloch replaced Josh Jennings in 2013, and has since put a great emphasis on youth development and club unity.
While on field results had not met McCulloch’s vision, in particular this season when the club failed to reach finals, he succeeded in other facets.
“I’ll probably walk away unsatisfied with where we finished on the ladder this year, but I’ll also feel satisfied that there’s some really good unity and culture down at the club and we’ve just got to continue to build those areas,” he said.
“We’re not far off it, our last two months we’ve been in all games with top five teams and we’re probably a good key forward and a hard bodied midfielder off taking that step.”
After acting as assistant to Greg Morley from 2001, McCulloch’s first head coach appointment came last year.
Having been out of the game for some time, he said the dressing room culture had been a welcome rediscovery.
“I think after you’ve stopped playing for a while and you’re back in charge you sort of realise the enjoyment of the camaraderie, I think when you stop playing you lose that,” he said.
Under McCulloch, some 11 under 18 players have been blooded into the senior ranks over a two year period.
With established players such as Jaime Aitken, Mick Geary and Jennings needing little guidance, McCulloch was able to direct more attention into the development of youth.
“I really enjoyed developing the younger players and mentoring them… the fact that we’re bringing some really good kids on that are going to be the future of the club.”
The club is hopeful of appointing a new coach by the end of September, and McCulloch would like to see his successor capitalise on the ground work he had laid.
“They don’t want to go backwards, the building blocks are there to move forward if it’s done right,” he said.
“I think it’s pretty important they keep the majority of that playing group together, I think as the season’s worn on there’s been some real unity amongst the playing group, especially in the past two months and I’d hate to see that fall away.”
McCulloch leaves the role with a winning record of 20-16 and one draw over two seasons.
Club president Andrew Quenault said the Maroons would have loved to keep McCulloch on deck and praised his efforts in the position.
“He’s galvanised the group, I think he’s taken the selfishness out of the group and made them a more team-orientated, club orientated group,” Quenault said.
“The amount of work he put in was phenomenal… you’d go a long way to find another coach with that type of commitment, unfortunately he feels he needs to put more in and he can’t do that.”
Traralgon marked McCulloch’s last game off with a win 12.19 (91) to 9.9 (63) over Leongatha on Saturday.